Any personal injury attorney will advise you that some injuries become apparent over time. For this reason, we advise clients to refrain from accepting the first offer from an insurance company and to engage an attorney. Most insurance companies make low first offers. But there is much more at stake as this case demonstrates.
While driving his pickup truck to work one morning on an Interstate highway a tractor trailer smashed into the plaintiff’s pickup truck. The force of the impact pushed the plaintiff’s pickup truck across several lanes of traffic and off the road onto the shoulder.
Plaintiff’s injuries included contusion of the right front wall of the thorax, lumbar spine ligament sprain, cervical herniated disk at C7 with radiculopathy.
The defendant (tractor trailer driver) did not deny responsibility for the crash but did not formally admit liability for this truck accident.
The Timeline: Injuries Become Apparent Over Time
At the time of the crash, the plaintiff did not report major injuries. Instead, he continued to his destination. When he returned home, he tried to see his family physician, but was unable to be seen at the time. He went instead to an emergent care center. This examination resulted in a belief that only soft tissues had been harmed in the crash.
Within the next 10 days the plaintiff saw an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon prescribed medication, physical therapy, and cervical injections. This treatment resulted in some improvement for the plaintiff. Yet plaintiff’s symptoms persisted. Plaintiff remained on pain medication.
Five months later, cervical surgery was performed on the plaintiff that included plating. After this, the plaintiff recovered well.
Resolution of the Case
Attorneys for the defendant engaged an expert to review the plaintiff’s medical records. The expert stated a belief that the plaintiff’s surgery was not related to the truck accident. Instead, it was attributed to some unrelated event or cause.
The case was resolved in mediation one week before the scheduled trial. The plaintiff received a settlement of $350,000.
As this case demonstrates, some injuries become apparent over time. In this case, the plaintiff did not recognize his injuries immediately. This can occur for a number of reasons. Sometimes when adrenaline is flowing, as it does after an accident, it is masking the effects of some injuries. Most people are upset when they have been involved in an accident, and they might not be thinking clearly. For these and any number of other reasons, people do not recognize injuries or their severity at the time of the crash.
It is only some time later that many people begin to feel the pain and other effects of injuries. It is only then that they seek medical assessment and treatment, as in this case. Many surgeons and physicians prescribe a moderate treatment at first and observe changes later. Only when it is clear that other treatments will not resolve the issue for the patient do these doctors recommend and perform surgery.
In this case, had the plaintiff assumed that the initial treatment prescribed by the emergency physician or by the orthopedic surgeon were sufficient, he probably would have been open to a settlement from the defendant’s insurance company. A settlement would have been determined by damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle, medical costs to date, and lost wages to date. Once he accepted a settlement he would have had no opportunity to go back to the insurance company and demand additional money for pain and suffering, additional medical treatment, lost wages, etc.
For this reason, we recommend that if you have been in a truck accident or other type of crash you seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney. The attorney can help you to review the information about the crash and about medical treatment to date. Then the attorney can advise you about the merits of pursuing legal action.
Call Altizer Law, P.C.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident or an auto accident, we encourage you to see an attorney. Bettina Altizer and her team of experienced professionals are available to help you to evaluate an accident and to offer advice about a course of action. Should you engage us to represent you, we will proceed with aggressive pursuit of justice and maximum fair compensation for your hurts and harms permitted under Virginia law. Altizer Law, P.C., has been trusted for more than thirty years in truck and auto accident cases. Although we hope you will never need us, we are here to help you if you should need legal assistance.